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Reading, Writing, and Printing in Early Modern England

ENGL 736.401
M 9-12


This course will focus upon the material practices of reading, writing,and printing in early modern England, exploring the following topics:

The reading of scrolls/books by Ezekiel and John (and the extensive Renaissance iconography and commentary on the scene)

The uses of commonplace books in reading and writing (with particular reference to Hamlet as well as to actual commonplace books)

The technology of the desk

Marginalia (including the First Folio in the Free Library, which is the only Shakespearean folio to be completely marked up by a seventeenth-century reader; there will be a class project on this, leading to a publication. We will also work on a range of marginalia in books in the Penn Rare Book Room and the Library Company)

Ann Askew as reader and writer, and the printing of her texts by John Bale and John Foxe

John Rogers in Acts and Monuments and children's primers

The writing and circulation of letters

Theories of authorship

Printing as a material practice

The course will be taught in a range of locations, including the Lea Room at Penn, the Free Library, the Center for Judaic Studies, and the Library Company, and will give a detailed introduction to the book as a material object (from formatting to size and cost to varieties of annotation).

Texts for the course will include: the King James Bible; the texts of Hamlet; Shakespeare's First Folio; Anne Askew and John Rogers in Acts and Monuments, ballads, and primers; Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worm; Foucault and his critics.


Fulfills 1 & 5 requirements

fulfills requirements